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Constitutional change - Expert panel - Rec. no. 4
Topic: Constitutional change - Expert panel - Rec. no. 4
Posted: 21/January/2012 at 15:34
Re: Expert Panel on Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution - Recommendation no. 4.
Recommendation no. 4 of the panel is that the following section be added to the Constitution:
Section 116A Prohibition of racial discrimination
(1) The Commonwealth, a State or a Territory shall not discriminate on the grounds of race, colour or ethnic or national origin.
(2) Subsection (1) does not preclude the making of laws or measures for the purpose of overcoming disadvantage, ameliorating the effects of past discrimination, or protecting the cultures, languages or heritage of any group.
This will have no chance of endorsement at referendum.
The heading is misleading, in covering only a small part of the section. Also, the mention of "race" is odd, when read in conjunction with the mention on page v of the Report of "removing the outdated notion of race". Also, (1) has the potential to destroy immigration control, and (2) is extraordinarily far-reaching, referring as it does to "any group". The Parliament could if it wished (for example):
(i) legislate to exempt the top 1% (in terms of wealth) from having to pay taxes on any land they had inherited; or
(ii) legislate to protect the culture of people whose native language is English by prohibiting the speaking of any other language on government premises; or
(iii) legislate to require that the language used for instruction in all primary schools on Wednesdays and Fridays shall be some specific Aboriginal language; or
(iv) legislate to require anyone who sets foot in the street on 26 January to wear a hat with corks hanging round the brim, to commemorate and protect the survival of the bush culture of the early settlers.
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